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Ecologians, meet the US Army

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — with huge hat-tips to Foreign Policy and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers ]
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From Foreign Policy:

The Only Force That Can Beat Climate Change Is the U.S. Army

America’s military is the only institution that can break the partisan deadlock on the worst threat the nation faces.

The precise extent of human-induced climate change is unclear, but the basic science is unequivocal, as is the danger it poses to the United States. This threat comes from the direct impact of climate change on agricultural production and sea levels but equally importantly from the huge waves of migration that climate change is likely to cause, on a scale that even the world’s richest states and societies will be unable either to prevent or accommodate.

Yet for two out of the past four U.S. administrations, action on this issue has been frozen due to the refusal of a large section of the political establishment and electorate to accept the clear scientific evidence that this threat exists — and the Trump administration has now decided to remove climate change from the list of security threats to the United States under its new National Security Strategy (NSS).

The most urgent and important task facing climate change activists in the United States is to persuade the U.S. national security establishment of the mistakenness of this decisionThe most urgent and important task facing climate change activists in the United States is to persuade the U.S. national security establishment of the mistakenness of this decision. If no serious progress can be made under this administration, then concentrated thought must be dedicated to placing climate change at the heart of the next administration’s NSS and of U.S. security thinking in general.

This is because the most promising avenue to convince conservative American voters and to generate genuinely serious action in the United States against climate change would be to firmly establish the link between global warming and critical issues of national security. The threat should be obvious, but even before Donald Trump took office, the security elites in the United States and other major countries had not yet really integrated it into their thinking. Thus the vast majority of reporting and analysis of security issues in the Persian Gulf relates to classical security threats: the future of the Iran nuclear deal, the geopolitical and religious rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar, and so on.

Almost unnoticed by security institutions has been a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which states that by the last quarter of this century, climate change is likely to make it impossible for people in the Persian Gulf and South Asia to operate in the open for much of the year due to a combination of extreme heat waves and humidity. South Asia is currently home to the largest concentration of people in the world, many of them engaged in agriculture. If the MIT forecast proves true, what will future historians say about the current security preoccupations of the Gulf and South Asian governments and their Western allies?

**

This strikes me as one of the most important posts I’ve read, confronting often military-averse eco-thinkers with the one governmental source that has been eco-concerned at an impressively high level, see this High-level Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

Hm — when they say “high level” they mean something along the lines of “overview from 30,000 feet”, although they get into considerable detail as befits a military with suitable high alitude intelligence capabilities — even metaphorically speaking. OTOH, by “at an impressively high level” I mean “with strong support from an impressive group of general officers”.

Go, Army! Go U.S. Army Corp of Engineers!

Go, eco-warriors and ecologians!

And you know something’s happening, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?

Monday, August 28th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — gulf water temperatures 2° above average fuel winds, flooding in TX ]

Furthermore,

**

These frank admissions that we have gone beyond the known signal a qualitative shift in the situation.

You don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?

It’s altogether a hard rain falling..

King Cnut rebukes N Carolina legislators, & Trump by extension

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a meditation on sea-level rise ]
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A thousand years later, the lesson King Cnut sought to teach his nobles still hasn’t altogether sunk in.

The North Carolina story is from 2012, and I haven’t been tracking to see if there have been any changes since then — but the attitude behind the gutting of the EPA under President Trump is simply “more of the same”..

Humility is the key word in the article on King Cnut.

**

Sources:

  • ABC News, New Law in North Carolina Bans Latest Scientific Predictions of Sea-Level Rise
  • Wikipedia, King Canute and the waves
  • Eagle deaths: an interesting contrast — a DoubleQuote

    Thursday, July 20th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — on imbalances in public interest, reporting, just one example ]
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    David Hardy at Of Guns and the Law posted Eagle deaths: an interesting contrast today, Jonathan at ChicagoBoyz picked up on it, and when I looked at it myself, I saw the first two of Hardy’s three paragraphs as a DoubleQuote — making two points in counterpoint, as a musician might say, Hardy’s phrase “interesting contrast” meaning much the same thing. I like to use my DoubleQuote graphic formulations for such juxtapositions, as I’ve done here with Hardy’s “DoubleQuote in the wild”:

    Hardy’s third and final paragraph reads thus:

    When worked at Interior, a quarter century ago, I was told that bird deaths due to wind farms were massive, but orders were to do and say nothing, because wind power was fashionable. Hmmmm..

    Ouch.

    **

    If you took all the world’s potential “compare and contrast” pairs, and tried to balance them all equably, so that no comparisons ever had the kind of imbalance Hardy exposes here, there would be too many subjective factors for everyone to agree on, and worse thasn that, all too frequently balancing one pair of issues would almost certainly imbalance others..

    So we’d always have room to complain that something or other wasn’t fair.. Sort of like a Gödel’s incompleteness theorem for idealists?

    Sigh.

    **

    Sources:

  • Associated Press, Bald eagle threat: Lead ammo left behind by hunters
  • Politifact, Trump inflates wind turbine eagle deaths
  • The phrase ‘time crystals’ is mental clickbait, well nigh irresistible

    Thursday, March 9th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — science fiction & science fact meet — JG Ballard, Kurt Vonnegut, strange matter and a sacramental world ]
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    Ooh and aah! From Researchers create ‘time crystals’ envisioned by Princeton scientists, Phys Org News, yesterday:

    Time crystals may sound like something from science fiction, having more to do with time travel or Dr. Who. These strange materials — in which atoms and molecules are arranged across space and time — are in fact quite real, and are opening up entirely new ways to think about the nature of matter. They also eventually may help protect information in futuristic devices known as quantum computers.

    **

    A system in equilibrium cannot be a time crystal, but non-equilibrium systems can be created by periodically poking, or “driving,” a crystal by shining a laser on its atoms.

    **

    Two groups of researchers based at Harvard University and the University of Maryland report March 9 in the journal Nature that they have successfully created time crystals using theories developed at Princeton University. The Harvard-based team included scientists from Princeton who played fundamental roles in working out the theoretical understanding that led to the creation of these exotic crystals.

    What’s in a name?

    If they’d called these whatevers “chronosynclastic infundibula” there’s be less excitement, less funding — but fans of Kurt Vonnegut would have had a quiet chuckle.

    **

    But no, they called them “time crystals”. Brilliant, from a PR perspective.

    And me? It reminds me of JG Ballard‘s brilliant 1964 short story, The Illuminated Man, which I here juxtapose to the Princeton / Harvard science, in another effort to stitch together the arts and sciences at one of the high arch- points in the nave of what Hermann Hesse called “the hundred-gated cathedral of Mind.”

    Some choice quotes:

    ‘Here in this forest everything is transfigured and illuminated, joined together in the last marriage of time and space.’

    **

    Something glittered in the dusk behind me. I turned to see a brilliant chimera, a man with incandescent arms and chest, race past among the trees, a cascade of particles diffusing in the air behind him. I flinched back behind the cross, but he vanished as suddenly as he had appeared, whirling himself away among the crystal vaults. As his luminous wake faded I heard his voice echoing across the frosted air, the plaintive words jewelled and ornamented like everything else in that transmogrified world.

    **

    There in the Everglades the transfiguration of all living and inanimate forms occurs before our eyes, the gift of immortality a direct consequence of the surrender by each of us of our own physical and temporal identity. However apostate we may be in this world, there perforce we become apostles of the prismatic sun.

    **

    I shall return to the solitary church in that enchanted world, where by day fantastic birds fly through the petrified forest and jewelled alligators glitter like heraldic salamanders on the banks of the crystalline rivers, and where by night the illuminated man races among the trees, his arms like golden cartwheels and his head like a spectral crown.

    **

    Kurt Vonnegut:

    These places are where all the different kinds of truths fit together as nicely as the parts in your Daddy’s solar watch. We call these places chrono-synclastic infundibula.

    JG Ballard:

    Here in this forest everything is transfigured and illuminated, joined together in the last marriage of time and space.

    And that brief quote —

    There in the Everglades the transfiguration of all living and inanimate forms occurs before our eyes, the gift of immortality a direct consequence of the surrender by each of us of our own physical and temporal identity. However apostate we may be in this world, there perforce we become apostles of the prismatic sun

    — that in turn calls to mind Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch’s A Theology of Creation, from which I quoted yesterday in On riding a rapidly accelerating world.. in slower motion:

    Absolute personal existence, the Lord as a divine Person, “One of the Holy Trinity,” as our Liturgy says, not only lets himself be contained by the universe at one particular point in space and time, but by realizing at last the vocation of the person, he contains the universe hidden in himself. He does not want, like us, to take possession of the world; he takes it up and offers it in an attitude which is constantly eucharistic. He makes of it a body of unity, the language and flesh of communion.

    In him fallen matter no longer imposes its limitations and determinisms; in him the world, frozen by our downfall, melts in the fire of the Spirit and rediscovers its vocation of transparency.


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